It has become increasingly clear to me that the arc of progress for American women in leadership in our country is inevitable. Last fall’s elections were just one positive harbinger of change. More women than ever before are now seated in Congress, including women of color. Women now represent a quarter of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and women’s ranks in the Senate also have increased by two seats.
What’s also exciting is the youth and energy of some of these new leaders. Finally, younger adults are going to have a voice in our nation’s governance. They’re smart, committed and pursuing an agenda of change. My hope is that their success will inspire other, younger women to also pursue leadership in whatever domain they pursue.
As I ponder how wonderful and normal this all seems, an iconic song from years’ ago, comes to mind: Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” is that song. Released in 1971, Reddy’s song came out the same year that my husband, Larry, was killed in the Vietnam War.
When I first heard “I am a Woman,” it spoke to me. In fact, there were days I played Reddy’s album over and over. It reminded me that I, too, come from a long line of strong women. There was my mother, who was pregnant with my baby sister when my Daddy died, was left alone to raise nine-year-old me and my fourteen-year-old brother. There was my grandmother, Nennie, who launched her own interior decorating business in the fifties. She was always one of my personal inspirations, and among my staunchest advocates.
So, in 2019, whether you’re a newly elected member of Congress, an enthusiastic marcher, a struggling young person weighed down by student loans or a senior who has lived through years of ups and downs in our country, America needs your strength of will to show the world that more than half of our population stands together in support of a society in which equality isn’t just legislated but lived.
Listen to the words of Reddy’s timeless anthem. If you’re looking for encouragement, perhaps it’ll do for you what it did for me and still does. Enjoy.
© Tyra Manning 2019